Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Waiting for Arjun ....

My FB friend Vithal C Nadkarni  is a senior consultant with the Times of India group. He writes the Cosmic Uplink column for The Economic Times edit page three times a week. 

He posted this wonderful photograph of the Shami or Purple Bauhinia, showing off is blossoms. Trees , per se, are an endangered lot in Mumbai, and so it feels good to see a tree like this , which he had actually picked up as a sapling from the Tusli lake Forest environs as a young man, and planted and later transplanted  to a larger area.

 Known variously , as pink butterfly tree, purple orchid flower tree, purple camel's foot and in Indian languages Bauhinia is called Mandar, in Konkani , and Rakta Chandan in Marathi, Deva Kanchan in Kannada, Kaniyar in Hindi. 

  As per the epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas were five brothers who fought against evil forces (in the form of the unscrupulous and cheating 100 Kauravas) with a set of their divine and distinctive weapons. They abandoned their weapons and went into exile for one year. They, led by Arjun,  hid their weapons in a Shami tree and found them at the same place when they returned from exile. They then worshipped the tree before going to a battle, which they won and this epic is also observed with the celebration of Dussehra festival, which we just celebrated . People symbolically exchange with each other, the leaves of this tree at Dussehra.

The Shami tree
has come
a long way
in body and in mind....


In ancient times,
the tree
standing with friends
in a forest
was an almirah
for shade,
maybe even messages.

it stands,
massive and stoic,
all the weapons
perforate in society,
a scarcity of oxygen
due to the avarice of a a few,
and so many of its relatives
by those nuts
addicted to concrete nests and money.

Continuing ceaselessly
to give shade
for an Arjun or Krishna
to appear again ...


  1. Thanks for your kind note. Just one small correction: the plant I picked up in Tulsi was the Apta (Bauhinia reticulata); we transplanted it outside our garden. This one stands in our garden and is the pink butterfly tree planted by my father (who wanted to recreate a childhood memory of his own of my grandfather's house in Shimoga)!

    1. Thank you and I stand Corrected ...!

    2. Not at all! Pink Butterfly is Bauhinia purpurea!

  2. Beautiful. Bothe poetry and the picture. A treat for a nature lover :-)
    The buds are edible and make a yummy curry. Tribals of Jharkhand are seen eating the nascent leaf buds as well.

  3. Kachnar or Bauhinia recipes are officially listed in Alan Davidson's great book, The Oxford Companion of/to Food! Parakeets and langurs love the buds which are widely used in Himachal Pradesh (as also in South-East Asia) for salad, sabzi and pickle! Tender leaves are used in place of spinach as `famine food'. However also be warned that the underground roots of bauhinia are extremely poisonous!